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2022: The last year in review, part one

January

The fifth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, powered by the highly virulent Omicron variant, washed over the Valley. A curfew was imposed just before New Year’s Eve, and strict public health regulations were introduced that once again saw a ban on indoor private gatherings, the closure of restaurants and bars, and a mandatory work-from-home order. At the same time, the government halved the number of isolation days required following a positive COVID-19 test from ten to five in light of the labour shortage caused, in part, by the pandemic.

A COVID-19 ward with ten beds was created at the Barrie Memorial Hospital in Ormstown, where COVID-19-positive patients were treated locally for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

Students returned to online learning following the Christmas break but were back in classrooms wearing procedural masks by mid-month. Carbon dioxide monitors, which represented a controversial subject for the Ministry of Education since the start of the pandemic, began to be installed in all learning environments in all local schools and education centres.

News broke that the town of Huntingdon was evicting the Friperie Communautaire Huntingdon, which was given until the end of March to find a new location.

The Hôpital Vétérinaire Ormstown became the first Fear-Free-certified veterinary practice in the province of Quebec.

February

Restaurant dining rooms were able to re-open, while the government announced a plan to lift public health restrictions depending on vaccination rates and case counts. Spas and gyms were able to resume operations by mid-month; however, bars remained closed until the end of the month, when they were able to open at half capacity.

Ormstown-based maple syrup producer Serge Beaulieu retired as president of the Quebec Maple Syrup Producers organization after 13 years at its helm.

The municipality of Dundee mourned the loss of politician Paul-Maurice Patenaude, a former mayor and long-time prefect of the MRC du Haut-Saint-Laurent.

Havelock’s Les Carrières Ducharme quarry on Covey Hill was acquired by the Atwill-Morin Group. The company noted that the future of the proposed asphalt plant on a portion of the property would be determined by a forthcoming decision by the Superior Court as to whether the plant would abide by Havelock’s zoning bylaw.

 

PHOTO Sarah Rennie

 

A petition initiated by Ormstown resident Linda Janes to see Quebec adopt the “Plaid du Québec” as its official tartan was tabled by Huntingdon MNA Claire IsaBelle at the National Assembly. The petition garnered over 1000 signatures.

March

Students returning from the March break vacation were able to remove their masks in classrooms once seated following the easing of public health measures in elementary and secondary schools. Vaccine passports were no longer required to access public venues including restaurants and bars, and businesses returned to full capacity as of March 12. A sombre ceremony initiated by the Ici Santé health co-operative took place in Howick to mark the second anniversary of the start of the pandemic. 

The classic sugar-shack experience returned following a two-year hiatus, with area restaurants offering delicious dine-in services but no buffets.

The Friperie Communautaire Huntingdon moved to Sainte-Barbe and unveiled a new name, the Place 5 R.

The Chateauguay Valley for Ukraine Facebook page was launched by Godmanchester resident Stephanie Maynard to unite and organize the community’s efforts to help Ukrainians looking to flee their country following the Russian invasion and subsequent war. Fundraising efforts began to help bring families, who were connecting online with local host families, to the Valley.

 

PHOTO Sarah Rennie

Ukrainian flags were raised in solidarity with the besieged country at municipal buildings in the region, including in Ormstown, where a brief ceremony took place.

April

A sixth pandemic wave began to swell across the province and region, forcing the government to postpone the further lifting of mask mandates.

One of five specialized courts for sexual and domestic violence in Quebec was launched at the Salaberry-de-Valleyfield courthouse.

Fernand Ratté, the founder of Ormstown’s Magasin F. Ratté, passed away suddenly at the age of 89.

 

PHOTO Sarah Rennie

 

The Sûreté du Québec questioned three teenage suspects following a fire that severely damaged the O’Connor building in Huntingdon on April 19. Over 90 firefighters from Huntingdon, Godmanchester, Hinchinbrooke, and Sainte-Barbe, as well as members of the Chateaugay Brainardsville Fire District and Malone Callfiremen department, fought the blaze.

May

The Gleaner was among seven area organizations and businesses honoured during the NOVA awards ceremony for innovation, resilience, and initiative over the past two pandemic years.

Mask mandates in public places including schools were lifted on May 14 across the province, except on public transport and in health and long-term care institutions.

A case of H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza was detected in a small poultry flock in the Haut-Saint-Laurent, which heightened concerns among local poultry producers already practicing biosecurity measures to protect their flocks.

Huntingdon MNA Claire IsaBelle announced she would be stepping away from politics and that she would not run in the fall provincial election.

The death of hockey legend Guy Lafleur had locals remembering the time he landed his helicopter in a field outside the Huntingdon Regional Arena before coaching the Montreal Canadiens alumni team in a friendly charity match against area players.

Longtime teacher-turned-principal at École Arthur-Pigeon, Dominic Tremblay, moved on to become the director of the Centre du Nouvel-Envol in Valleyfield.

Local favourites, the Durham County Poets, launched their fifth album, Out of the Woods.

June

The Gleaner rang in the summer with a special “Summer Sampler” edition that was distributed for free across our territory.

Students from École Arthur-Pigeon held a Pride parade in Huntingdon to raise awareness for International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia. The Gleaner celebrated Pride month with a special section in each of the four editions printed in June. The newspaper also introduced a new French cartoonist, Eric Serre.

The annual Haut-Saint-Laurent volunteer awards returned with an outdoor ceremony celebrating the commitment and dedication of just under 40 volunteers from across the region.

Construction dump trucks began to be a common sight in the Franklin area as the municipality renewed efforts to restrict dumping on agricultural land.

The Performing Arts Department at Chateauguay Valley Regional High School made a triumphant return to the stage with a spectacular production of the Broadway adaptation of Disney’s Aladdin.

The Ormstown Saracens kicked off their 50th anniversary season with a win at home.

Hemmingford’s Parc Safari also celebrated the launch of its milestone 50th anniversary season with the introduction of seven fully electric bush trucks that now offer visitors the chance to get closer to the animals on the Safari Adventure.

The CAQ government passed Bill 96 to reform the province’s language law.

In-person graduation ceremonies took place for the first time since the start of the pandemic at Valley schools.

The CVR Educational Foundation awarded its millionth dollar during the graduation ceremonies at the Ormstown-based high school.

 

PHOTO Emma Langlois

 

Crowds came out for the return of Expo Ormstown, which celebrated its 106th edition by shattering previous attendance records.

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